Purity is Incestuous

An interesting post on the Daily Dish about miscegenation:

For older people, and people who live in areas that have long been predominantly white, the miscegenation issue is the last bastion of knee-jerk racial identity. And whites are not alone in this. Every well-defined racial and cultural group has this taboo actively at play, even today, regardless of political bent.

[When] a young West Virginian hankers for someone a bit more “full-blooded” than Obama, they are using code-words for the ultimate threatening “other”, the other that sneaks into your home and screws your daughter and destroys your bloodline.

The idea that there is any value in a pure ‘blood-line’ in has to be one of the most evil concepts invented by man. As Hanif Kureishi reminds us, “purity is incestuous”. Worrying about your ‘blood-line’ is against nature.

10 Replies to “Purity is Incestuous”

  1. Maybe. But worrying about your blood-line is just a code-word for worrying about your culture. The “other” is threatening for far more important reasons than this bizarre and archaic notion of “bloodline”.
    This post at DD looks to me like a load of tosh, and unpleasant, divisive tosh at that. I’m off to have a look.
    ps Is it wrong to wonder where my daughter’s consent figures in this chap’s nice graphic metaphor?

  2. I’ve just worked out why this argument offends me so. It’s because the bloodline reference implies that anyone white who doesn’t vote for Obama is tantamount to a Nazi…It’s cheap, lazy, disingenuous, manipulative and extremely offensive.
    If it’s ok for non-white people (say) to fear or feel that a white president would not represent them as well as a black one, if it’s ok for women to fear or feel that a male president would not represent them as well as a female one, then it’s ok for a white person to fear or feel that a non-white president might not represent them as well as a white one. The only difference in this latter case is that it is untested. I think history tells us that non-white people and women have a jolly good point, wouldn’t you say?

  3. To be clear, the post at the Daily Dish was conjecturing at what other people’s opionons might be, not endorsing the ‘blood-line’ idea.
    In the case of Obama, I do not think that white people have a legitimate point in worrying about whether he will represent them properly. He is not such an unknown quantity in US politics for those sorts of questions to be legitimate. His leglislative record, and the platform of unity he is running on, points in the other direction.
    (For example, on the Civil Rights Movement, when someone said to him “That was a great moment in African-American politics” he replied “No, it was a great moment in American Politics”).
    So, the fear of whites that Obama will not represent them equitably is groundless, in a way it might not have been for former black candidates such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who preached a much less inclusive message. To persist with this worry is at best ignorant, at worst racist. Either way, it is certainly irrational.
    Indeed, The Daily Dish’s central point is that Obama’s message of inclusivity, of recognising that white people’s concerns are as legitimate as black people’s, is something of a rebuke to the likes of Sharpton and Jackson.
    Meanwhile, your point about the daughter’s consent does, I think, strike at the heart of the blood-line meme. As if the father has a say over who his daughter breeds with, on the basis that ‘his’ blood-line is at stake. Odious.

  4. Yes. Conjecturing at what these people’s objection might be, and then condemning them on a speculation. Pathetic. I think it’s called a Straw Man posing as a real one. Interesting issues raised though.
    I see your point about Obama, but I beg to differ. He may well be the US Nelson Mandela, but it’s still an act of faith for white people – and given the USA’s history on race, you could forgive them for feeling it’s a leap of faith too far. His stated and implied views notwithstanding (and let’s not forget, people promise all kinds of rubbish if they think it’ll get them power), there is room for another reason Rob, beyond the tired old cry of racism. It’s also perfectly rational, too, if you are risk-averse. Which many rational people are.
    It would be nice if things like race and gender could be irrelevant in politics, but until they cease to be issues in policy, that’s unlikely to come true, isn’t it?
    On the bloodline point, I see you are envisaging a consensual situation. But let us not forget how rape is used as a weapon of war, for men to hurt men, with women the unfortunate conduit…Yugoslavia, anyone? Somalia?

  5. I don’t think either Sullivan or the correspondent he quotes are batting at straw men. The issue of race, as the deciding factor in people’s votes is a very real one: the post was in response to an exit-poll which revealed as much.
    It’s also perfectly rational, too, if you are risk-averse. Which many rational people are.
    But this means that ‘black’ is equated with ‘risk’ and ‘white’ is equated with ‘safe’. Which is racist, surely? People are only being ‘rational’ here if you accept the intial, racist premise. Its not overt, KKK racism, sure, but a kind of second order, unspoken prejudice which is more prevalent than the overt kind. As the commenter says, its the last bastion of racism, still found within the liberal middle-classes. Now, since there are few policy differences between the campaigns, Clinton has been playing to that underlying fear in an attempt to win votes. Noticably, the colloray – that Clinton is a risk because she is a woman – is not a meme that has been propagated by Obama or his surrogates.
    Regarding rape as a weapon of war: This is definitely a case of men being imprisoned by their own minds. Because they feel they ‘own’ their women, and because they have an irrational attachment to a non-existent ‘pure’ bloodline, they are therefore hurt and offended should anyone violate these emphemeral things (as opposed to just being sad that their daughter has been traumatised). Any resulting progeny are then regarded as a permenant offence to the culture and the people, because they are regarded as of ‘impure’ blood. Whereas in reality, these children share as much DNA with their relatives as any other ‘pure’ child. And since DNA has no culture, any dilution is purely in the mind of the community.
    Obama is a perfect example of the last point. He was brought up ‘white’ and had to learn his ‘black’ culture much later in life. Is one diluted by the other? Or can one make the other stronger?

  6. Yes, Rob, they are batting at straw men if they’re speculating on this whole “blood-line” red-herring. If it’s race that’s deciding people, there are likely lots of possible reasons for that, not all of them racist.
    And to your second point, no, Rob. It means “same” is associated with safe, and “different” is associated with risk. What that translates as depends on who is assessing the risk to whom. It is not racist at all. Unless you think someone’s race is somehow more important or special than any of the other dimensions on which they could be the same or different to you. Now that would be racist, in my view.
    As for Clinton being a risk because she is a woman – she’d only be a risk in the way we’ve been discussing, to men. But it’s not a fair analogy though, because the relationship between the genders is quite different to the relationship between the races.
    It does seem to me though that when an “outgroup” person is elected, that only happens when they can persuade the “ingroup” that they are not a threat. cf Thatcher. And yes, the examples of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who failed in this regard.
    On the war-rape thing, I do not think it is the men who are “imprisoned by their own minds”. Though the logic is indeed flawed in the ways you mention, it is the women and their offspring who are “imprisoned” by men’s minds, though I think that’s too nice a word for the kinds of brutality that get done to them.

  7. No-one is suggesting that “preserving the bloodline” is the only reason why people aren’t voting Obama. Nor that all those who cite race as a reason for voting Clinton are trying to reverse anti-miscegenation laws. But the correspondent at the Dish is saying that such sentiments do exist. And they’re interesting, because they allow prejudices to remain viable even when blacks and whites are agreed to be equal. And they might be harder to fight against too.
    Re: outgroups. Oh yeah, and.
    it is the women and their offspring who are “imprisoned” by men’s minds,
    Oh yes, of course. I thought that went without saying.
    Surely the men are imprisoned too though? Less of a prison, of course, but if their pain is caused by a false logic and a lament for an imaginary bloodline (rather than the sight of loved ones suffering) then surely it is their own minds that are causing them hurt?

  8. Blood line is a nebulous concept but to say worrying about it is “against nature” is a strange statement. Our whole purpose is to pass on our DNA, we choose mates and pursue strategies to acheive the aim of giving our DNA the maximum chance of making it into the next generation.
    If you change the word “blood” for “DNA” (which is what it means in laymans terms anyway) then worrying about anything *except* your blood line is absurd.

  9. Bloodline is a very dstinct concept from DNA. So long as you and your descendants procreate, your DNA is passed on, in exactly the same proportions, regardless of who you or they are mating with.
    That’s not the same as a bloodline, which can be ‘damaged’ by outside influences. It implies that some blood/DNA is inferior to others, sometimes based on such obviously irrelevant criteria such as surname, social class or religion.

  10. It might be usefull to distinguish between the social construct of “race”, which has nothing to do with biology or DNA and is of questionable scientific value, and “ethnicity” which IS biologically determined, and the means by which someone’s country and family of origin can be determined by their DNA, based on their membership of a local gene pool, and their parents DNA respectively.
    DNA is transmitted by reproduction and replication, fathers DNA combines with the mothers DNA to form a new and unique DNA combination in offspring, which is superior (in terms of adapative advantage) to the individual DNA of either the mother or the father. This why over time populations get taller, fatter, thinner, darker, lighter etc to suit their local environment, and why, over the course of millenia some species thrive and multiply, whilst others become extinct.
    In that context, to speak of DNA “proportions” is misleading, we share 80% of our DNA with lettuce, for example, and if you pick 2 people at random off the street 99% of their DNA will be identical. Very small changes in DNA code for very big differences in outcome. It’s impossible therefore to conclude that all DNA is equal, when clearly some DNA is superior to other DNA, in terms of fitness, unless you consider lettuces and humans to be of equal value. I would suggest that we didn’t rise to the top of the food chain by being equal to lettuces.
    Surname, social class and religion are social constructs, they can all be changed, and they have nothing to do with biology (“blood line” or DNA).

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